Back to Newsroom

Potter Park Zoo Bids Farewell to Whispering Giant

November 28th, 2012

On November 27, 2012, Potter Park Zoo bid farewell to its Whispering Giant, the iconic Native American statue that stood 29 feet tall at the zoo for 37 years.

“The sculpture was a dear gift to the zoo,” says Dennis Laidler, education curator at Potter Park Zoo. “This is a bittersweet parting; we’re sad to see its end, but we’re delighted that it was enjoyed for so many years by visitors and staff alike.”

The Trail of the Whispering Giants is a collection of sculptures by Hungarian-born artist Peter Toth. There are currently 73 sculptures, with at least one in each of the 50 United States. Each Whispering Giant is created as a composite of all the physical characteristics, stories and histories of the local Native American tribe(s). Toth constructed a Whispering Giant at Potter Park Zoo in fall of 1975.

In 2005, Toth returned to Potter Park Zoo to make repairs on the aging statue, which was showing signs of natural damage to its elm base. The repairs sustained the statue for an additional seven years until zoo officials deemed its removal necessary, citing further natural damage that was no longer preventable.

Potter Park Zoo welcomes the public to share its memories of the Whispering Giant by emailing photos to zoophotos [at] ingham [dot] org through December 31, 2012. These photos may be used in a collage for a sign that will be created and installed at Potter Park Zoo in spring of 2013, in appreciation of Toth’s gift. The sign will be part of an ongoing project to highlight the cultural significance of Potter Park Zoo’s Great Lakes species to regional Native American tribes.